Capitals Use Special Teams to Beat Flyers in Game 1

Special teams made a special impact for the Washington Capitals in their first playoff game.

With a perfect penalty-killing effort and a power-play goal by John Carlson, the Capitals beat the Philadelphia Flyers 2-0 Thursday night in Game 1 of their first-round series.

Washington's penalty kill went for 4 for 4 and frustrated the Flyers, who lost second-line center Sean Couturier to an upper-body injury in the second period.

Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby had seven of his 19 saves on Philadelphia power plays to pick up his third career shutout in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Flyers counterpart Steve Mason stopped 29 of the 31 shots he faced, giving up only Carlson's goal on a shot that deflected in off teammate Chris VandeVelde.

Game 2 is Saturday night in Washington.

The Capitals went 1 for 6 on the power play.


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Carlson's goal plus another at even strength by Jay Beagle late in the third period was enough to take the series opener.

Holtby and Mason put on a goaltending show in a game that turned into a special-teams showcase. That played right into the Capitals' plans after finishing the regular season fifth in the NHL on the power play and second in penalty killing.

The trademark penalty kill was rolling in the first period, when Carlson went off for hooking and Brooks Orpik got sent to the box twice. The Flyers came up empty on all three of their first-period power plays, a combination of their own miscues, blocked shots and Holtby.

Capitals coach Barry Trotz said prior to the game that special teams ``can give you momentum or they can take some momentum away from you,'' and that came true. The Capitals killed off a fourth penalty in the second period to Dmitry Orlov before they got their turn.

Two power plays in quick succession against a depleted Flyers penalty kill were just what the Capitals needed. When Flyers defenseman Brandon Manning was penalized for putting the puck over the glass, Washington took advantage quickly.

Nineteen seconds into the power play, Carlson's shot hit VandeVelde as he slid across the ice to try to block it and went between Mason's legs 16:21 into the second. The Capitals got a handful of power plays in the third period, too, and used them to keep the Flyers from mounting any offense.

The Capitals could take pride in winning the kind of low-scoring game they tended to lose in past playoffs, which also came with premature exits. They were methodical in holding the Flyers to 10 even-strength shots and just eight total shots after the first period.

After Washington's Tom Wilson and Philadelphia's Wayne Simmonds dropped the gloves and the teams got back to even strength, Beagle fired a shot past Mason at 16:36 of the third to put it away.

NOTES: Capitals F T.J. Oshie was in the lineup after leaving practice Wednesday with an undisclosed injury. ... Couturier appeared to injure his left arm on a check from Alex Ovechkin midway through the second period. He went to the locker room and did not return, and the team said he'd be evaluated Friday. ... Fans at Verizon Center observed a moment of silence for Flyers owner Ed Snider, who died Monday at the age of 83 after a two-year battle with bladder cancer. Snider was a Washington native. The Flyers wore a patch with Snider's initials, ``EMS.''

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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